James Hall
2001-2002 President
San Antonio Bar Association

 

August 2001 - Committee Work Crucial

Rumor has it that if you don’t learn something each day, you’re not living. Let me tell you what I have learned so far about being president.
   
Beginning as a director and ascending to president-elect, I have learned that the actual presidency is much like taking a photograph with a Polaroid. You take the photo and pull out the paper and watch as the photo becomes clearer with time. The time has passed, the picture has become clearer, and, now, I must assume my role as your elected president. I have learned that the phone starts ringing and, frankly, hasn’t stopped for the last month. Letters to the Association membership are due. Decisions must be made. It has become a juggling act to handle the demands of the presidency and a demanding practice. But, I realize I am not alone in coming to this realization. Many presidents have come to the same realization.
   
Another picture that became clear to me was what could I do to make this a successful year for the Association. Since each of my predecessors were faced with the same problem, I begin to think about what each of them had done. What I learned was that the presidents that had successful years were those who appointed great leaders as committee chairs. It is no great mystery that much of SABA’s work takes place in its committees. Our committees have always been the source of projects that benefit our members and the greater legal community.
   
I am eager to work hard to advance the projects and mission of the Bar Association. But I cannot do it alone. Very shortly, I will be appointing committee chairs and members to serve on those committees. As a reminder, please return your committee selection sheets immediately. My expectation is that each committee chair will establish clear and measurable goals, regular monthly meetings, and the inclusion of each committee member.
   
If I do my job properly, I will become exhausted thanking each of you who contribute to our successful year.

 

September 2001 - SABA Strives to be Fair and Evenhanded

Last week, I received a call from Jimmy Allison who teasingly said, “It has only been two weeks and it looks like you are going to be impeached.” It appeared that an afternoon SABA CLE seminar had become the focal point of a controversial issue. As a result, I spent the next three days responding to e-mails both friendly and hostile.
   
The incident is a reminder that SABA is comprised of quite a diverse group of people which includes various beliefs, religions, gender, ethnicity and interests. Yet, in spite of that, we are members of one of the most honorable professions, “The Practice of Law.” A profession of which all of us are proud.
   
Because of the diverse membership, SABA through its officers, directors and committee chairs has attempted not to endorse or support any particular group or organization which could cause a conflict among the membership. The Board has gone as far as refusing to endorse a product because another member was involved with a similar product. SABA strives to be fair and evenhanded in all its endeavors.
   
SABA will continue to educate its members by offering seminars on various aspects of the law. One of our greatest resources is our fellow lawyer. I firmly believe in the State Bar CLE slogan, “Education of the Bar by the Bar.” However, on occasion, something may slip by our vigilant efforts. If it does, making an inquiry or providing your suggestion could go a long way toward a fair resolution.

 

October 2001 - Texas Lawyers Respond

On September 11, 2001, while terrorists were attacking the United States of America without warning, causing untold death, injury and destruction, our State Bar president, Broadus Spivey, like many Americans, was on his way to a meeting by commercial airline. His flight having been grounded before reaching its final destination, the journey was completed by rental car. As the tragic series of events began to unfold, his thoughts were interrupted by a caller on his cell phone.
   
The lawyers of Texas were responding in numbers wanting to help, wanting to do something.  Whether individually or as a firm, they wanted to send money to a relief effort. Since then, the State Bar has been flooded with calls asking whether the Bar has established a mechanism to facilitate and oversee contributions by the lawyers of Texas for the relief effort.
   
After the State Bar director’s meeting last week, all local Bar Associations are being contacted and asked to make their contributions  through the Texas Bar Foundation. A committee will be appointed to monitor the funds and insure that they  are appropriately directed.
   
If you or your firm would like to make a contribution to help those affected by the tragic events of September 11, you can make your check payable to the Texas Bar Foundation. Mail your checks to: Texas Bar Foundation, P.O. Box 12487, Austin, Texas 78711-2487. Please be sure that you mark the check with the words “Disaster Relief Fund.”
   
If you prefer, you can make your donation to the San Antonio Bar Foundation, designated as the central collection point for the San Antonio area. A deadline of November 1, 2001 has been set. Those funds designated for the “Disaster Relief Fund” will be forwarded to the Texas Bar Foundation.
   
However, by whatever means you choose to aid in the relief effort, I know that all our thoughts and heartfelt concerns go out to the victims and their families.

 

November 2001 - State Bar Unveils MYTexasBar.com

Recently, the State Bar of Texas unveiled MYTexasBar.com, a highly customizable web portal designed for Texas lawyers and their staff members. It is absolutely free of charge.
   
Among the many free features of MYTexasBar.com are:

  • Fifty years of up-to-date Texas caselaw and statutes, fully Boolean and proximity searchable (powered by National Law Library);
  • A powerful and flexible online calendar and contact manager that can synchronize with your Microsoft Outlook or Palm or Handspring applications;
  • Up-to-the-minute news feeds from Associated Press and Reuters;
  • Daily legal news and case updates from FindLaw;
  • A daily lawyer cartoon from the New Yorker magazine collection;
  • A secure online file manager for storing up to 20 megabytes of data;
  • Legislative tracking;
  • Brief banking;
  • Practice tip of the day;
  • Texas CLE highlights;
  • Regional news from The Texas Lawyer and Law.com
  • Searchable federal circuit and U.S. Supreme Court decision database;
  • Local weather anywhere in the nation;
  • Financial market monitors and stock quotes;
  • Legal discussion boards, libraries, and forums;
  • State Bar announcements;
  • Texas lawyer locator;
  • SEC EDGAR database filings;
  • Forms;
  • Legal dictionary;
  • E-mail;
  • Links to local bar associations that have active websites.

Thus far, over 15,000 Texas lawyers have signed on for MYTexasBar.com. If you have not already done so, you should avail yourself of this extraordinary free service. Here’s how to sign up for MYTexasBar.com:

  • Using your Internet browser: log onto www.mytexarbar.com;
  • At the Welcome Page it will say: “Register for MYTexasBar;”
  • Follow the prompts: fill in your Texas Bar number and provide the last four digits of your social security number;
  • At the next page: fill in your name, email address, zip code, etc.;
  • Specify personal password;
  • Specify group password if you want to grant user privies to your staff;
  • Customization features: pick areas of law, etc. to suit your interests;
  • Can’t log on or need assistance: staff@texasbar.com.

The reviews from our fellow attorneys for this service have been glowing. The value of this service to you can easily exceed your annual dues payment to the State Bar of Texas. I urge you to avail yourself of this cost-saving opportunity.

 

December 2001 - Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

On behalf of the San Antonio Bar Association Board of Directors and Staff, I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

See you next year!

 

January 2002 - Courage and Valor Shine Through

The year 2001 was marked by the very worst and the very best of humanity. Freedom  and democracy were attacked. Still, we triumphed as ordinary people became extraordinary heros and courage and valor shone through our terror.
   
The new year will bring many changes which will test the boundaries of our civil liberties and our concepts of justice. And I hope that we will be ever mindful of our duty as lawyers to guard those values. I hope that the challenges that have united our country in the recent months will serve to further unite those in the practice of law. I am ever hopeful that SABA’s lawyer will welcome the opportunities to serve our community by participating in SABA's Pro Bono Project. By combining our energies and resources, we can help strengthen our society.
   
It is my wish that a spirit of shared responsibility will guide our efforts as start this new year.

Best wishes for a happy and fulfilling New Year.

 

February 2002 - Judge H.F. Garcia Will Be Missed

The recent passing of H.F. “Hippo” Garcia was a sad event for our legal community. Because I understand that not all of you could attend the services for Judge Garcia, I thought it would be appropriate to share, here in the Subpoena, the eulogy delivered by Judge Ed Prado at San Fernando Cathedral. As you will read in this eulogy, Judge Garcia affected many with his generosity, humor and humanity. He will be greatly missed.

 

March 2002 - Paying Our Respects

Every month, so far, the San Antonio Bar Association and the 4th Court of Appeals hold a Memorial Service to recognize, honor, and remember those in our profession who have died. The service is marked by tradition and ceremony and with a dignity that compliments not only those memorialized, but also our profession.
   
It serves as a small token of appreciation from the bar to the families who have so unselfishly shared their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters with us and our demanding profession. The Memorial Service often allows the bar to meet for the first time the families who supported, guided, and applauded legal achievements we often take for granted. It allows us to pay homage to fallen friends and acquaintances and to recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by each one of us in our lives in this profession.
   
Family members of the deceased are often moved to know the unknown details of their loved one’s role in the San Antonio bar. This is provided from the mouths of fellow lawyers. Observers get a peek into SABA’s legal traditions, and lawyers share in the feeling of comradery and brotherhood.
   
If you haven’t attended a Memorial Service, don’t wait until you’re the one being honored. Attend one of the services to honor your fallen brethren. I promise your attendance will make a difference and you might even leave with a better understanding of your fellow attorneys.

 

April 2002 - Assuring Equal Justice For All

It is appropriate in a year when SABA is reorganizing its Pro Bono Project (to better serve our community) that the Law Day Theme is “Celebrate Your Freedom – Assuring Equal Justice for all.” Law day is our special day to focus on our heritage of liberty under the law. In 1961, Law Day was designated as a national day of celebration by a joint resolution of Congress.
   
It is our privilege to have as our Law Day speaker, Bryan A. Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. He is widely acclaimed as one of the most effective public service lawyers in America. He has devoted his life to helping disadvantaged people in the deep south and, with his staff, has been largely responsible for reversals or reduced sentences in over 65 death penalty cases.
   
Mr. Stevenson’s work for condemned prisoners has attracted national recognition and acclaim from the Washington Post, the New York Times, People Magazine, LIFE Magazine and several national television programs including Nightline and 60 Minutes, which featured a case where he and his staff achieved the release of a death row prisoner who spent six years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
   
Our Law Day Luncheon promises to be entertaining and educational. Make your reservation now and please encourage your firm to purchase a table. Our law day luncheon is Friday, May 3, 2002.

 

May 2002 - Become a Mentor, Get Involved

If there ever was a project worthy of your help, it is the San Antonio Bar Association Mentor Program. The objective of the program is to match lawyers with disadvantaged students who need effective role models. Once paired with a student, the lawyer’s involvement can range from answering questions about what we do, to helping with school work, to participating with the student in his or her activities in and around the school. Unlike many other civic projects which have rigid time requirements, this is a flexible, individual program requiring as little as one hour per week. Meetings can be arranged at your convenience, at your office, home, at the school or even at the courthouse, where people think we hang out all the time anyway.
   
This program is important to our Association for many reasons. Active participation by our members allows SABA to demonstrate the same commitment to the youth of our community as other professionals around the city. More importantly, these students need the encouragement and leadership we can provide in the formative years of their lives. This is a chance to do something about the many problems plaguing our children. We can make a difference. Get involved today.

 

June 2002 - Honoring Law Day

Law Day has come and gone for another year. This year, in celebrating our freedom, we acknowledged the responsibility to assure justice for all. Now, we can put our celebration of freedom back in the briefcase. I don’t have to think about freedom, patriotism, citizenship for another year! I can go about my business, taking those things for granted. I can save that feeling of pride for the next Law Day. Is that what we are supposed to do?
   
The man that led us in the pledge of allegiance on Law Day was Andrew MacRae. He was a British citizen. His father, who was in the oil business, was transferred to Houston in 1980. Andrew, a green card resident alien, saw no difference between his status and that of U.S. citizen. He was not bothered with such things as voting, serving on a jury or holding a public office. Even as an attorney, voting and jury duty was an obligation not a privilege.
   
In 1999, Andrew married and started his family. His views changed. He realized that it was important to be a citizen of the United States and to recognize that jury duty and voting are privileges to be honored. After becoming a citizen of the U.S. on March 21, 2002, he applied for a U.S. passport which has become his tangible sign of citizenship. He carries this tangible sign with him, although he has no plans on going out of the country any time soon. He is excited about his citizenship.
   
How can we become as excited about our freedom and citizenship as Andrew? What can we do to gladly accept the responsibilities that go along with our freedom? Every one of us is proud to be an American because of the freedoms we enjoy. Especially now, in time of political turmoil, our freedoms as Americans are so tangibly valuable. Yet, we hesitate at the thought of accepting a pro bono case or going out into the community to talk with school children or service organizations. We delay in voting at any level. Assuring equal justice for all is someone else’s job. Well, it’s not!
   
Freedom is not something to pull out once or twice a year to celebrate. We need to embrace and exercise the rights and privileges conferred upon us by virtue of our citizenship and make a commitment every day to assure equal justice for all.

 

July 2002 - A Year to Remember

This year has been a stirring one for SABA. We have seen the tragedy of 9/11 to the rebirth of our Criminal Justice Center with its renaming. We have lost old and dear friends but made many new ones. And, for me, this has been a year to remember.
   
SABA has had another successful year. Not because of anything I have done, but because of what you, the members of SABA, have done. You served and chaired various committees, you volunteered when asked and you helped educate the members of SABA. I cannot begin to thank you. Without you, SABA could not prosper and grow each year.
   
This year the bar leaders focused on two projects, the pro bono project and the web site. Although neither one is totally complete, both are well on their way. Thanks to Alex Huddleston, who accepted the challenge to start the evaluation of the project. Thanks to Lamont Jefferson, SABA board member, he surveyed the other associations’ pro bono projects. Thanks to Karen Pozza, SABA vice-president, for grabbing the reins to start SABA’s new project, Community Justice Program, which she will co-chair with Phyllis Speedlin. This will be SABA’s new community outreach program. Thanks to Mark Unger, who called in the middle of a Board meeting to say, “You are the first SABA president to have a fully functional web site.” Thank you Nissa Sanders and Ron Clark for an unforgettable Law Day.
   
By thanking a few, I leave out many who deserve just as much recognition and thanks. Please do not be offended. I apologize to you but say that your contribution has been just as great and appreciated by me.
   
Finally, I would be remiss in failing to thank Jimmy and his staff. Without your unselfish support, SABA could not be the success that it is and run as smoothly as it does.
   
With that, I will only say, “WE ARE ADJOURNED!”

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